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NFU research shows that American farmers receive 12 cents of the Thanksgiving food dollar

Farmers and ranchers take home just 12.1 cents from every dollar that consumers spend on their Thanksgiving dinner meals, according to the annual Thanksgiving edition of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Farmer’s Share publication.

25 November 2019, at 9:29am

The popular Thanksgiving Farmer’s Share compares the retail food price of traditional holiday dinner items to the amount the farmer receives for each item they grow or raise.

“As we gather around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year, we should take time to recognise and thank the family farmers and ranchers who provide our Thanksgiving meals,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “While consumer holiday food costs continue to decline, incomes for American farm and ranch families are have dropped dramatically over the past seven years. We’re in the midst of the worst farm economic downturn in generations, and we’re hopeful the Farmer’s Share can help illustrate that fact to the general public.”

On average, farmers receive 14.6 cents of every food dollar consumers spend throughout the year, while more than 85 percent of food costs cover marketing, processing, wholesaling, distribution and retailing. As the Thanksgiving Farmer’s Share illustrates, the farmer’s share is even lower for Thanksgiving food items.

Wheat farmers averaged a meager $0.03 on 12 dinner rolls that retail for $2.69. Dairy producers received only $1.66 from a $4.59 gallon of milk. Pork producers averaged $0.65 per pound of boneless ham that sells for $3.99. And turkey growers, who raise the staple Thanksgiving dish, received just $0.06 per pound retailing at $1.49. Johnson says that $0.06 figure—while striking on its own—is particularly egregious when considering the fact that poultry integrators received $0.62 per pound.

Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to raise awareness about food production, including misconceptions about food costs, Johnson explained. “Farmers and ranchers play the most valuable role in actually producing the food that is served at holiday dinners, yet they make just pennies on the dollar for their products. The farmer’s share of the retail food dollar continues its gradual decline from year-to-year as food companies take in record profits and family farmers sell their farms. This is certainly not what the consumer wants, but it is what is happening behind the scenes of their Thanksgiving holiday.”

The Farmer's Share is based on calculations derived from the monthly Agriculture Prices report produced by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and price points of common grocery food items at Safeway supermarket.